Through the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, also known as the Mine Act, US Congress amended the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 by encompassing all mines under one legislation; this includes all mines, surface and underground, regardless of size, commodity mined, or method of extraction. The Act required mine operators to provide training for employees and mandated annual refresher training. It defined violator penalties, permitted inspections, and allowed the closing of dangerous mines.
Congress created the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) under the U.S. Department of Labor to administer the Act and enforce compliance with mandatory safety and health standards. Some of the health and safety standards established and monitored by the MSHA include possible cave-ins, flammable and explosive gases, electrical fires, equipment rollovers and maintenance, airborne contaminants, noise, and dust. The MSHA was also given the responsibility of investigating mine accidents and providing technical and compliance assistance.
In signing the autorizing legislation, President Jimmy Carter said "I am exceptionally pleased today to sign S. 717, the Federal Mine Safety and Health Amendments Act of 1977. For the first time, all the Nation's miners will be protected under one comprehensive mine safety and health law. Building on experience gained under previous mine safety and health laws, the bill makes needed improvements which strengthen the protections which should rightly be afforded the Nation's miners and provides that the Secretary of Labor is to administer this new law."
- U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration Homepage
- History of Mine Safety and Health Legislation (U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration)